MARK DRAKEFORD has ordered an urgent audit of statues, street and building names to address Wales’ connections with the slave trade.
The First Minister’s announcement follows a month of action by the Black Lives Matter movement, which has shone a light on racial inequalities around the world.
The audit, which will span the length and breadth of the country, will be spearheaded by Gaynor Legall, a powerful advocate for ethnic minority women across Wales.
Cardiff-born Legall will lead the task and finish group selected for their expert knowledge of the slave trade, British Empire and history of black communities in Wales.
The First Minister said: “The Black Lives Matter movement has brought to the fore many important issues we need to address as a country. One is the need for Wales to reflect on the visible reminders of the country’s past. This is especially true when we look at the horrors of the slave trade.
“Some of our historic buildings are reminders of this painful period of our history. Some may appear to make heroes of historical figures whose actions we now condemn. Individuals connected to the slave trade may be remembered in street names or the names of public buildings.
“They are commemorations of a past that we have not fully challenged and that we should challenge now.”
Mark Drakeford continued: “This is not about rewriting the past – it is about reflecting it with the justice it deserves. If done in the right way, we can create a richer and more informed relationship with our history. We can find new stories and figures to celebrate. We can reflect a Wales that rightfully celebrates our diverse communities. This is what our past deserves and our present so rightfully demands.”
He concluded: “An external group of young people and communities will be consulted about the findings before we plan how best to move forward together. Additionally, the Minister for Education will shortly announce further details of a working group to oversee the development of learning resources and identify gaps in current resources or training related to BAME communities, their contributions and experiences. This work is aligned to the Estyn review of Welsh history, which will take full account of Welsh, and wider, BAME history, identity and culture.”
Ben Lake MP urges UK Government to review calorie legislation
JUST one week after the legislation to label restaurants with calorie labels came to force the Hearts Minds Genes Coalition for eating disorders, chaired by multi award winning campaigner Hope Virgo, have coordinated an open letter to the Government calling on the Government to:
- Make a commitment that the evaluation of the new legislation to label restaurants with calories on will happen in the first year with a commitment that members from the eating disorder community and experts will be involved in this review.
- To make it mandatory for every single restaurant that has to have mandatory calorie labelling will also have a no-calorie menu choice for those who wish to request this
- To remove the labelling of calories on children’s menus in all restaurants
The letter spotlights the problematic nature of adding calories to menus, highlighting not only the dangers for those affected by eating disorders but for the wider society. It goes on to emphasise that with 16% of the adult population screening positive for an eating disorder and millions more suffering from eating disorders, what is proposed as a “common-sense approach” – focusing on weight and calorie counting – is incredibly destructive.
Ben Lake MP says: “Mandating calorie labelling may have a detrimental impact on those living with, or who are at risk of developing eating disorders. The rates of both eating disorders and obesity are increasing across the UK and whilst we all want to have a population approach to making society healthier, none of us want unintended consequences for people on whose lives this issue has a profound impact.
“I believe that the UK Government should take a holistic approach to tackling obesity. Action is needed to protect children from junk food marketing with restrictions on advertising, alongside the promotion of healthy food choices in shops and supermarkets. More widely, I believe that the UK Government must reverse cuts to public health funding to ensure that community services can support people to live healthier lives.”
Hope Virgo says: “I honestly still can’t quite believe that this has happened. For so many people affected by eating disorders restaurants will become an even more toxic and fearful place. It will normalise conversations around food and exercise. Over the pandemic we have seen a huge increase in eating disorders, with services completely overrun. Do we really want future generations to grow up basing their food decisions on numbers? Since the legislation came into force I have been inundated with messages from people who have so much fear not just for themselves but those around them.”
Boris Johnson, his wife and chancellor Rishi Sunak to be fined for breaking lockdown rules
THE PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie, and chancellor Rishi Sunak, have been notified that they will be issued with fines for breaking lockdown rules.
The fixed penalty notices are the result of a Metropolitan Police investigation into parties in Downing Street and Whitehall in 2020 and 2021.
Mr Johnson will become the first sitting prime minister to receive a punishment for breaking the law.
Labour immediately called for both the PM and chancellor to resign while Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey called for parliament to be recalled for a vote of confidence in Mr Johnson.
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon also demanded that they should quit.
Those calls have been echoed this week by Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds has called on the Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew RT Davies and Welsh Secretary Simon Hart to “show a backbone” and call for Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak to resign following the news that both men are to be fined over lockdown parties.
Commenting Jane Dodds MS told The Herald: “Boris Johnson & Rishi Sunak have broken the law & repeatedly lied, they must resign from their positions at once.
“While people in Wales were playing by the rules at great personal expense, those in charge thought they were above the law.
“This also will come as a painful blow to all those covid bereaved families in Wales. The behavior of Johnson and Sunak
“The Welsh public deserves much better. For the sake of the country, both Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak must resign immediately.
“If the Conservative Party is to have any legitimacy in Wales Andrew RT Davies and Simon Hart need to show some backbone and be calling for resignations immediately. No Welsh Conservative MP should be backing the Chancellor or Prime Minister staying in post.”
Concessions to UK Elections Bill secured to ensure open and accessible elections in Wales
COUNSEL GENERAL Mick Antoniw reaffirmed the Welsh Government’s commitment to open elections and increased voter participation, as the Senedd prepares to vote on the passage of the UK Government’s Elections Bill.
The UK Government’s Elections Bill proposes the introduction of mandatory photo ID, as well as measures relating to the administration and conduct of elections, overseas electors and UK citizens, and amendments to the role of the Electoral Commission.
The Welsh Government has secured concessions that mean large parts of the Bill will not apply to Senedd and local government elections in Wales. This includes removing a proposed provision that would have allowed the Secretary of State to direct the Electoral Commission in the discharge of its devolved functions in Wales.
In a Legislative Consent Motion, to be voted on in the Senedd on Tuesday, the Welsh Government is recommending consent is given in two specific areas only – digital imprints and an offence of voter intimidation.
Mick Antoniw, Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution, said: “The concessions we have secured to this Bill represent a success for devolution. The Welsh Government is committed to making elections as open and accessible as possible, and to do all in its power to increase participation.
“This is why 16 and 17 year olds and qualifying foreign citizens will be able to vote in local elections in Wales for the first time this May. We are also running pilot schemes in four local authorities designed to make it easier for people to vote at a time and a place that is convenient for them.
“The UK Government plans for voter ID risk making voting harder. Though the proposals won’t apply to devolved elections, they will apply to general elections in Wales and I’m concerned this will confuse voters. We have shared our concerns with the UK Government.”
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